Meta-Review: Oculus Rift

Oculus-RiftIt may seem like forever ago, but there was a time in which Oculus Rift seemed like a pipe dream. Though certainly leaving positive impressions with Dev Kit 1, it was clear that the first attempt at a consumer friendly VR device had a long way to go. But then, Facebook happened. That $2 Billion injection of capital into Oculus’ coffers not only changed the technological landscape, allowing for unfettered development, but it also rocked the social context – allowing for a mainstream audience to wonder what the future held for VR. Now, two years after Facebook’s acquisition, we have our first consumer model available for purchase. With competitors like Valve’s HTC Vive and Playstation VR, does Oculus have what it takes to convince consumers to go out and spend their hard earned money? Is this a true technological shift? (I refuse to use the word paradigm!) Or is this simply another Kinect/PS Move? The reviews are in:

adr1ftThe Verge: The high cost of buying and running high-end VR headsets makes them inaccessible to many people, and the Rift in particular is relentlessly focused on gaming. Within these limitations, though, the Rift makes a good case for seated VR, and it lays a solid foundation for what’s to come. The headset you can buy today is not Oculus’ most ambitious vision for virtual reality — but it’s a vision that Oculus has successfully delivered on.

Gizmodo: What Oculus has accomplished is remarkable. There’s plenty that even the completely uninitiated user can enjoy. More importantly, the Rift is truly immersive in most cases. The image quality is mostly excellent, and the head-tracking is nearly flawless. Indeed, perhaps what’s most significant is that there are moments when I can say unreservedly and without caveats that I am enjoying the Rift right in the moment—not as a device indicative of some desirable future, but as a device to own right now. I still can’t afford the future of virtual reality, but for the first time, I actually want to.

C|Net:The ability to explore faraway places without ever being there physically. Or to learn to empathize with people of a different race, gender or economic situation by standing in their shoes for a day. To seamlessly blend virtual reality with the real world, instead of trying to block it out. These are not just dreams, developers are working on all these things. They’re just not here yet. You simply must try the Oculus Rift. It’s breathtaking. I just wouldn’t buy one right now — and there’s no reason you should feel the need to, either (especially with its archrival, the HTC Vive, also just days away). The longer you wait to buy, the better it will get. This is just day one for Oculus — and for the future of virtual reality.

Tech Crunch: The Oculus Rift is a crazy device that is more than the sum of its parts. As the first consumer high-powered virtual reality headset, it deserves props for just existing, but incredibly it manages to kick ass as well. Whether you should buy now, just try it out or wait until Oculus Touch arrives depends mostly on your patience and cashflow. The Rift has had an entire industry riding on its back, and more than a handful of skeptics praying for its downfall. It impresses, and signals more good things to come from consumer virtual reality and — more broadly — our technological future.

oculusrollercoasterFollow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar


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